My Week 250: WWJD, A Special Day

Yesterday, I was driving to the secret agency’s offsite location in Mississauga. I had just gotten off the highway and turned onto the service road approaching the site when suddenly, some kind of liquid gushed onto my accelerator foot. I was immediately freaked out, as one would be, but because I was driving in traffic, I couldn’t look to see what it was so I had to suffer the terrors of my imagination for at least two minutes, during which it occurred to me that the liquid might be a) the blood of a small rodent who had just died in my dashboard b) the urine of a bat that was living in my dashboard or c) me leaking in some way. When I pulled into the parking lot, I tentatively pulled my foot out and looked at it. Water. There was water on my foot. Where it came from, I had no f*cking clue, but suffice it to say that I was disturbed by this aquatic turn of events. Then I thought “Aquatic? Wait…could it be?!”

Hello again, ladies.

Yes. It could. You might recall that, a few weeks ago, a colleague had a birthday and she—well, all of us were all gifted with a life-size, cardboard Jason Momoa. And guess who had arrived at our secret location yesterday? That’s right—Aquaman himself. I walked into our temporary office and there he was in the corner in his bespoke suit, a lei draped casually around his neck, like a giant cardboard guardian angel sent to watch over us all. And then it all made sense:

1) On Wednesday, the water dispenser ran out of drinking water. Well, Aquaman needs to stay moist. The rest of us mortals will just have to suffer on occasion.

2) On Thursday, we went out for a quick lunch. On the way back, despite the sun and heat, we were caught in a sudden rainshower. I was initially angry, because I don’t dry well, but then I realized that it was just Jason, pouring his love down on us.

3) On Friday morning, there was the water on my foot. Despite my initial shock, I now understand that it was a blessing from Jason, welcoming me back to work in the way that only Aquaman can.

4) On Friday afternoon, the skies opened up and the rain came down like a monsoon. The building we’re in is known for flooding easily, and everyone was panicking, but Jason just smiled his enigmatic smile and the rain eventually stopped. The only damage was to the car of a colleague who had left all his windows down and was now faced with soaked upholstery. Well, Jason tried to warn him.

WWJD? Close the car windows.

And it’s so helpful having him onsite. Yesterday, someone asked me a question:

Colleague: So what should we do?
Me: Hmmm. WWJD?
Colleague: What would Jesus do?
Me: No, Jason. What would Jason do?
Colleague: Ah!

WWJD, my friends.

I’m A Terrible Audience But Ken’s A Good Listener.

It’s true. I’m really terrible at listening to other people’s stories sometimes, because I have random thoughts that get in the way. I have family members who get really frustrated when people (ie: me) interrupt them to ask questions, or clarify a point, and they will sometimes just give up (ie: scream “Oh for God’s sake, never mind!). Luckily, Ken is used to this, and has no storytelling ego. He will just patiently address my thoughts and questions, then get back to his story. For example, in the car the other day:

Ken: …and then we all went to the RARE Slit Barn—
Me: Is that a STRIP CLUB?!
Ken: No, it’s a nature preserve funded by a charity called RARE. A slit barn has vertical slits in it for ventilation—
Me: Ha! It SOUNDS like an exclusive strip club, like “Then we all went to the Rare Slit Barn, had a drink and a lap dance…
Ken: So anyway, they had students there who were training as interpreters—
Me: What, like for sign language? Was everyone hearing impaired? I’d love to learn sign language…
Ken: No, NATURE interpreters. To teach other people about the nature preserve—
Me: That would ALSO be a great name for a strip club: The Nature Preserve…
Ken: It was incredible how professional the students were. Everyone learned a lot.
Me: Slit Barn. That’s awesome.
Ken: Sigh.

But Ken? Unfortunately, he’s a very good listener:

Ken: Hey, Pete just posted a picture of the commemorative stone he bought for the new Lions’ Club Splashpad. It has the name of the pub engraved on it.
Me: Cool. Did we buy a commemorative stone?
Ken: Of course.
Me: Nice. What does ours say?
Ken: ‘Slippery When Wet.’
Me: WHAT?! It does NOT!
Ken: That’s what you said you wanted.
Ken: You were? Too late now.

Aquaman would be proud. Happy 29th Anniversary, Ken. I love you.

My Week 165: All I Want For Christmas Is A Transporter–But Not A Robot Cat

Yesterday, I turned 52. I keep thinking of myself as middle-aged, although if this is the middle, I want some kind of guarantee that I’m going to live to see 104. At what point do you stop being ‘middle-aged’, like what age is no longer realistic to double? 104 years old doesn’t seem like an impossibility any more, given advances in the medical field and the fact that people are more healthy than ever. A colleague from work lost her grandmother a while back, who had just turned 101, and the whole family was shocked because she was in such good health. Whereas, in 1850, most people could be expected to kick it before they turned 40, so I guess we’ve come far from the days of scurvy and black lung disease. And I say ‘I guess’, because frankly, I’m a little disappointed with the future I was promised when I was young. Not my own personal future, which has been pretty awesome, but the general future that was envisioned by cartoons, TV shows, and novelists, and which has completely failed to live up to expectations.

1) A couple of weeks ago, I was at a workshop, and we were invited to discuss what we thought the future would look like. Other people at the table were jabbering on about “entrepreneurship” and “global competencies”, but I was like, “Transporters. What’s the point of even HAVING a future if there aren’t any transporters to magically take you wherever you want to go?” Then the guy next to me whispered, “I don’t think you’re getting this” but I was like “NO. I TOTALLY get it. Star Trek built up my expectations, then betrayed me.” I mean, think of all the technologies that Star Trek predicted that we now have: doors that slide open when you stand in front of them, holograms, supercomputers that talk back to you, and a whole lotta other useless sh*t. But the one thing, the ONE THING that would really make MY life easier would be a transporter. Why have the science people been focusing their attention on building fancy coffee makers and rechargeable vacuums? I’ll bet James Dyson could figure out a way to transport astronauts to the International Space Station on a sub-molecular level if he put as much thought into a transporter as he did into a hand dryer. Why do I need to drive a car to the airport, get on a plane, and arrive in Paris 7 hours later, when I could just say “Teleportez-moi, Monsieur Scott!”?

2) Also, where are the goddamn flying cars? It’s bad enough that I can’t miraculously appear in Paris whenever I want, but my car doesn’t even FLY. Damn you, George Jetson. It’s 2017, and the best we can do is a ‘driverless’ Uber, which is just making a bad idea worse. And even worse is the fact that we still use dinosaur blood to run our stupid, non-flying cars, instead of electricity, like somehow, electric cars will destroy the world as we know it, or at least take money out of the pockets of billionaires.

3) When I was 6, I was obsessed with Aquaman. I was convinced that, by the time I grew up, there would actually be biodomes under the ocean where people could live in harmony with the creatures of the sea. I asked my gran one morning if she thought it would happen soon, and she said, “Never. People will never live under the sea.” And while her bad attitude made me angry, I knew that one day I would be vindicated. And I’m still waiting for that day to come. The only scientific advance that the people who created Aquaman are actually responsible for is casting Jason Momoa in the new Justice League movie, in which he will carry a sparkly trident and ride a shark. Yet I still can’t breathe underwater.

4) Where is my robot butler? I’ve made my peace with never having a monkey butler, despite recently having my hopes raised (I still think of you fondly, Ralph Van Wooster, and all the hijinks we would have gotten up to), but there is still nary a sign of the artificial intelligence that all the movies have been promising since I was a child. There are smart phones and smart homes and GPS in our cars and Siri/Cortana/Alexa, but where is the actual physical embodiment of the mechanical person who will do my bidding? The best we’ve come up with is a robot CAT. Why would I EVER want a robot that lies in front of the fireplace all day, sleeps next to my face at night, and surprises me by peeing on my rugs when it’s “in a mood”? Real cats can be dicks enough—why are we creating mechanical ones? And don’t be all like “Oh, come on, mydangblog, cats are so sweet.” Here’s what I had to deal with the other day:

Me: OK, I’m going out. I have to be at the car dealership in 15 minutes, so see you guys later.
Titus: OK, bye!!
Raven: I need to get into the kitchen. Open the gate.
Me: Sigh. Hurry up…What are you doing?
Raven: The dog is panting too hard. It’s off-putting.
Me: Don’t walk away from me. Do you want into the kitchen or not?
Raven: Yes. Open the gate.
Me: Here. It’s open. Let’s go!
Raven (sits back down): Nuh.
Me: I don’t have time for your bullsh*t, Raven! Fine—stay back here.
Raven (under breath): Boy, are you going to be surprised when you get home.

Let’s just forget robot cats and focus on robot monkey butlers. Then EVERYBODY wins.

5) Space Tourism. This might possibly be the greatest disappointment of them all. When I was a kid, people lived on the moon, they colonized Mars, and they travelled around the galaxy exploring strange new worlds. The actual real-life Voyager 1 was launched in 1977, and 40 years later, it’s JUST ABOUT to leave our solar system. Me, I want warp speed. We could have invented this a long time ago, but apparently scientists were too busy making blankets with arms in them, LED multicoloured flashing scarves, and realistic wind-up mice (“Watch their tails whir while they scurry across your floor!”). And yes, I DID just get my Bits and Pieces Christmas catalogue, and NO, there’s nothing future-y in it. Although you can relieve the stress you feel about not being able to live in a subdivision on Mars by purchasing a set of basketball net hats so that you and a co-worker can shoot balls at each other, although I think Human Resources might have an issue with that. It’s been almost 50 years since we first put a dude on the moon—how hard can it be to put a middle-aged woman on Uranus? (I am SO sorry about that one, but I couldn’t resist. I may be 52 physically, but I’m pretty much 13 years old in my head.)

All in all, by this point in time, I was really hoping that the world would have been more like Gene Roddenberry’s vision than George Orwell’s. Luckily, I still have another 52 years left, and Christmas is coming, so this middle-aged girl can dream.

My Week 79: Naptime at Batman Versus Superman, The Queen and I Rent a Car

Wednesday: Napping at the movies

The other night, Ken and I rented the latest James Bond film, “Spectre”. I was kind of excited, because I love Daniel Craig as 007—he’s my favourite Bond, although when he retires, I will be totally pulling for Idris Elba, just for the record—and I’d been wanting to see the return of Blofeld for a while. We settled in to watch it and it was pretty good, but part way through the fortieth car chase, I said to Ken, “I’m having serious déjà vu right now. You know, like I feel as though I’ve seen this before.” Ken said, “But when would you have seen it? You’ve been talking about renting it for about three weeks. Did you watch it in Toronto without me?” But that wasn’t possible because there’s absolutely nowhere in Toronto anywhere near my condo that rents movies. So we kept watching, and the feeling got stronger until I said to Ken, “I don’t know how I know this, but in about 1 minute, they’re going to walk away from that building and it’s going to explode in the background.” I know there’s a lot of explosion-y stuff in James Bond movies, but it happened just like I pictured it in my mind. Then I was pretty well able to predict what was going to happen in the rest of the movie with some accuracy, but I still didn’t know HOW I knew. Until Wednesday, when my brother came over. We were going to have dinner and then see “Batman Versus Superman”. I thought it was a long shot, but I asked him if there was any way that we had seen “Spectre” together. My brother has a PhD, which also means he has a really awesome memory, and he very quickly reminded me that yes, I’d gone with him and his wife to the VIP theatre to watch it about three months ago, and that we’d shared a bottle of wine and had pulled pork poutine for dinner. And that I’d fallen asleep almost immediately at the start of the movie, which they thought was pretty funny. It all came flooding back at that point—well, the memory of falling asleep anyway—but it must have been a light enough doze that my subconscious was aware of what was happening in at least SOME parts of the film. I was a little embarrassed, but then I got really worried, because it had been a long day, we were drinking wine, and now we were going to see ANOTHER action movie. I determined that I was NOT going to fall asleep this time. The previews came on, then the movie started. Everybody was pissed off at Superman, including Batman, for a reason I have yet to comprehend. And then I was like, “Since when is Gotham right across the bay from Metropolis, but Superman and Batman have never met?” Next thing, a crazy Mark Zuckerberg was talking about some painting being hung upside down, and a bunch of other random things happened. But then suddenly, the world was being attacked by space harpies, and Superman’s evil twin was trying to pull Ben Affleck’s heart out through his chest, and then he woke up and realized he was sleeping, and I was like, “What the F*CK is going on here?!” And I realized that yes, I’d also been asleep, yet again, for an indeterminate amount of time, and now I had no idea what was happening. Now, in my opinion, there’s NO WAY that missing 30 minutes of a six hour film (well, it felt like six hours) should make it incomprehensible, but maybe it was that way to begin with. The only good thing was that it was really dark and my eyes were hidden behind 3D glasses, so I’m pretty sure my brother, despite his PhD, had no clue that I was yet again taking a nap. But the problem was that by the end of the movie, I had more questions than answers. Like, why was Batman so pissed off at Superman? Why did the angry Facebook guy want to kill Superman? What was the point of two superheroes, both of whom are impervious to physical damage from the other, insisting on trying to beat the sh*t out of each other for three hours when it’s obvious that NO ONE is going to win? What was with the gratuitous 15 minute scene of a shirtless Ben Affleck doing pull-ups and hitting a tractor tire with a sledgehammer? (Sure, he was very muscular, but also a little hairy and sweaty, and not in that GOOD way). What kind of coincidence is it that Superman and Batman both have moms with the same name, and that once Batman finds out, they immediately become best friends instead of two guys trying to destroy each other? Did they have the SAME mom? Are they actually half-brothers or something? How does an underground lake turn a normal, dead guy into a gigantic, disgustingly slimy superhuman who can only be killed by kryptonite? Where the HELL did Wonderwoman come from and why did she look so happy to be there? And don’t even get me started on Aquaman and that weird-ass cameo where he looked like a character from Game of Thrones and came out of his little cave looking all sleepy and blinky, then stabbed the camera and swam away. But the biggest question I had of all was this: Why did no one, in the entire movie, punch Jessie Eisenberg in the face? Because I sure as hell wanted to, mostly because of his bad acting (dude, you will NEVER be Heath Ledger, so don’t even try), but also because he’s just so f*cking annoying in everything he’s ever been in. At the end, Batman goes to see him in the “lunatic asylum” and he’s got his Batman brand all ready (by the way, when did Batman start branding people like cattle?), and I was like, “Please, god, just do this one thing for me,” but instead, Batman punched the wall and left. And then the last scene of the movie was a zoom-in on the same bizarre painting of the same space harpies from an earlier scene, only now it was hung the other way, like it was an omen, or maybe a flashback, or maybe foreshadowing, only I was like, “I’m done. I can’t even.” And then we left the theatre:

Brother: That was great! Did you like it?
Me: Yeah, I guess. It was a little long. I was kind of bored by the end.
Brother: Bored? Really? What about the scene where…
Me: Oh yeah! That was a great scene!
Brother: And the scene when…
Me: I know, right? Talk about crazy!
Brother: I loved the part where…
Me: Me too. What a moment!

The best part was that he seemed to have no idea that I’d been asleep for any length of time. Of course, if he reads this, he’ll know, but at least then I can get some of my questions answered. (Actually, the real best part of the night happened when we were leaving. The ushers asked everyone to return their 3D glasses to the bins outside the theatre, and on the way out, my brother spotted a receptacle that said ‘Thank You’ on it. He turned to me and said, “Here’s where we’re supposed to leave our glasses”, and he tossed them in. I went to do the same, but looked in first and said, “Dude, that’s the garbage.” Then we both said, “Oh sh*t!” and the people behind us started laughing hysterically.) Ultimately, I should try harder to stay awake during movies, but honestly, in this case, I don’t think it would have helped.

Thursday: I rent a car for the Queen

Starting on Sunday, I’ll be working away from the office at a different site for about three weeks. And because I’ll be transporting a couple of coworkers, I was told that I should rent a car, and that my company would reimburse me. The only qualifier was this: “When you rent the car, you have to list Her Majesty The Queen as the lessee. The car will be in her name, and you’ll be listed as the driver.” This might sound strange, but I work for a government agency, and I was assured that this was common practice and had something to do with liability. Actually, that doesn’t make it sound any LESS strange, but remember, I also had to take an oath to her in order to work at my new job. I definitely had some questions though. Like, what if the Queen suddenly came to Canada? Would I have to drive her around? Or was she one of those people who would insist on taking the wheel herself? I hear she still likes to bomb around in her Land Rover when she’s at Balmoral. And what if she got caught drinking and was charged with a DUI? Could I still rent the car? Or would they be like, “I’m sorry, but the person whose name the car is in has to have a valid licence.”? Even worse, she’s pretty old—what if she suddenly died in the next three weeks? Aside from the world mourning the loss of a great monarch, would I also have to mourn the loss of my rental car or would Prince William just inherit it along with everything else? Questions aside though, on Thursday night, I called a local car rental company, Enterprise. A woman answered and I told her that I needed to reserve a car for a certain number of days.

Woman: Whose name will the car be leased under?
Me: The Queen.
Woman: What queen?
Me: The Queen of England.
Woman: The Queen of England?
Me: Yes, that one. I’ll be the primary driver though.
Woman: Um…
Me: No, seriously, I work for a government agency.
Woman: Right…sure you do.
Me: Is this the Woodstock location?
Woman: No—this is the central call centre. In Nevada.
Me: Oh. I should probably just go to the Woodstock branch.
Woman: They’re closed. Indefinitely.
Me: But I just drove by there the other day…
Woman: No, they’re definitely closed.

The next day, I called the Woodstock location. A man answered, and when I expressed surprise that they were open, he said, “No, we’re not closed down. That’s weird.” And then I realized that maybe the woman in the States thought I was pranking her or something. I told the man how many days I needed the car for, and gave him my name. “No worries—you’re already in our system from the last time you rented from us. I can get the paperwork all ready for you. The total will be–” But then I had to tell HIM about the queen and I got concerned that maybe he would think I was making a crank call too.

Me: Um, there’s one other thing…
Man: Sure, what?
Me: I have to rent the car in the name of Her Majesty The Queen.
Man: Oh. That changes everything.
Me: You sound really ominous. Seriously, I’m not joking!
Man (laughs): No, I know. It just means that you get a better rate.
Me: What, like the Seniors’ Discount? She IS around 90, I think.
Man: No, there’s just a special corporate rate. I’ll give you the new total.

I went there today to pick up the car, and the first thing he asked me was, “So how’s the Queen doing anyway?” I replied, “Oh you know—holding her own.” I hope she likes Nissans, because they didn’t have any Land Rovers.

keep calm